When I volunteered at the Dairy Dash in April, I told a lot of the runners to “have fun” after I gave them their bibs. I got more than a few scoffs at this, so I soon changed to saying “good luck” instead. But there has to be some element of fun, right? Why else would we keep doing it?
I was texting with my bestie a few weeks ago about working out. She’s trying to tone up for summer, and we started talking about cardio versus strength work.
Me: I hate all forms of exercise. I am terrible at doing strength work even though I need it. The only reason I have stuck with running is because it strikes the competitive nature in my brain that makes me want to constantly compete with my past self. Like at mile 12 of the half marathon I just did, I was cursing and swearing that I would never do another one. Got home and immediately made a list of five more I want to do so I can better my time.
Her: Yeah I don’t have that problem.
Me: It’s weird. I spend 4-5 hours a week doing something I don’t enjoy all that much just to have a feeling of accomplishment when I finish a race about once a month. Sometimes after a hard workout too but mostly just after races.
So when I came across a Runblogger post entitled, “When does running become fun?” and he talked about competing with himself and the sense of accomplishment, I could relate. I’m still not sure I would call it “fun” though. My inner monologue during a typical run is, “This sucks. How much longer do I have to do this? Does my knee/hip/ankle/calf hurt more than normal?” Then I will inevitably try to get myself to stop being negative and to enjoy the moment, which will last all of about 15 seconds before I start wondering again when I can stop.
Races are different. My thoughts start out with, “Wheee! I’m racing! Keep a good pace! You’re doing great!” and end up with, “Where is the freaking finish line? I might die.” But when I don’t die, I’m very happy. Is that considered “fun”?
As I said in my text above, this also happens sometimes on hard speed workouts. I almost always start out speed work by thinking that I won’t be able to do whatever workout is prescribed for that day. But, in reality, most of the time I can, and it makes me feel great when I accomplish what I didn’t think I could just an hour earlier. Google tells me the definition of fun is “amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable,” and I would definitely consider that feeling enjoyable. So maybe running is fun after all?
All of my runs can’t be races and speed workouts, though. How can I make easy runs fun? The only way I’ve found so far is to do them with other people. The catch to this is that most of the people I tend to run with run a little faster than what I consider “easy” pace, which makes the runs harder but not to the point where I feel any satisfaction at the end. It’s a delicate balance that I’m still trying to figure out.
What makes running fun to you?